June 22, 1984

The `Battered Child' Revisited

Author Affiliations

From the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson.

JAMA. 1984;251(24):3295-3300. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340480077034

The impact of the article "The Battered-Child Syndrome" by Drs Henry Kempe, Frederic Silverman, Brandt Steele, William Droegemueller, and Henry Silver, which appeared in The Journal on July 7, 19621 —and the speed with which this impact was felt throughout the land —were truly astonishing. Within four years of the publication of this LANDMARK ARTICLE, all but one state had adopted child abuse reporting statutes.2

Others had suspected the existence of child abuse, and a few previous articles on this subject had been published in the medical literature. Two things made this article different. First, the title. How can a nation ignore an entity called "the battered-child syndrome"? Second, the paper was submitted to the widely circulated Journal of the American Medical Association so that the majority of practicing physicians read about child abuse and the press quickly took note.

This perspective will cover four topics: (1) What